‘Desire Eternal’ and other poems by John Grey
By: John Grey
Why did he want her?
He was prince of the realm
and could have had anyone.
Besides which, she was mortal.
A shepherdess of all things.
He was a strange one.
Not like his father.
Yes, her hair was rich as copper
and tumbled in ringlets down her back,
and her face was sun-rouged
and figure svelte,
but that was mere chimera –
everyone knew that humans
were merely corpses in waiting.
But he kept harping on
how enchantingly blue
were her lovely eyes,
how kissable her lips,
how endearing the voice
that called out to her charges.
Many winged wisps floated by
in hopes of snaring his attention
but he remained oblivious
to their eternal charms.
Nothing could sway him
from his desire for the lovely lass
who, day after day,
looked down from a gentle hilltop
at the flock that nibbled
on the grasses below.
See that speck of light
at the tip of the oak leaf.
That is actually a heart
that’s fervently set
on an impossibility.
Don’t believe me.
Wait until the sun goes down.
Or just do as I do
THE FIGURE ON THE LAWN
The macabre has not moved from your heart’s hollows.
At midnight, it rises with you like blood from a wound.
And there you are in the moonlight,
white-robed, hooded, drifting from your front door to the Eros fountain,
a fearless somnambulist sustaining the house’s legends,
across the terra cotta tiles, gold-ribbed lawn,
to where a cherub spurts water
from its mouth into a deep slime covered pool.
You are the living ghost of your ancestors,
fortified by their lingering in these rooms,
the drafts of malice and sorrow that pervade the corridors.
Every night, your journey nears completeness,
your fear of death assuaged by the threat of another morning.
You’re flesh and blood but you’re also prophecy.
So much death is invested in your bare-foot tread.
Tomorrow, they may find you sleeping
when dawn pretends it’s something more
than the fall-out from the earth’s dumb turning.
But, one of these days, the light will burn, like a branding iron,
the back of your throat, where soggy hair flops away,
your body floats and your face lies flat against green surface.
as water begins the slow peeling of flesh and bone,
rots it to mulch while preserving your presence.
You are destiny’s hand-maiden.
There is nothing fate will do to save you.
Your time on this earth is shrunken by the past.
You’ll return to the dreams of those before you.
HEARING BACH ON A CITY SIDEWALK
An unsuspecting ear,
liberated as much as anything –
Bach toccata emerges from the silence –
much the same as the Whitman poem
or the blue-eyed woman –
over and over
now set free –
to go with the dazzling sun,
men in loud cars,
kids from rough neighborhoods,
to take what the wild wind offers,
this first born to my heart.
LIFE IN THE PRESENT
I’m plugged into the internet
in search of something current –
I want the now,
anything posted in the last five seconds –
not the past,
not anything already stashed inside my memory
but the site, the blog,
that is only in the moment –
I don’t care if the news is bad –
hurricane on the way,
fatal shooting on the next street over,
wars and floods and famine –
if I can’t live in the present
then how can 1 be alive?
so come on world,
I don’t want your best
just your latest –
I want to breathe it like air –
toxic I can handle,
stale I choke on –